Bringing Storytime Home for Your Little Ones
by Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager
The Children’s Room of the library was eerily quiet the afternoon I went in to gather as many storytime supplies as I could tote out to my car. After I delivered some puppets, books and silly hats to my co-workers, we set about creating a few online storytimes. Our hope is to reconnect in this way with the families we miss seeing at the library, and with new families who are looking for something fun for their young children to do. Our “Storytime Online” sessions will be released on Thursdays in April on the library’s Facebook page, @manhattanpubliclibrary, and you can view the first two on our youtube channel at https://bit.ly/3bUhcjM.
If you’ve got young children at home, you may be looking for more ways to keep them interested and happy, as the usual diversions of trips to the zoo or days at daycare are not available. Here are a few of our favorite places to look for early literacy activities for children ages 0-5 to help them get ready for kindergarten. The great news about teaching young children is that it is super fun, and this is what our storytimes are all about.
Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, or CLEL (clel.org), is a well-organized website that covers everything from tips to reading with your child to early STEM experiences. One spot our librarians like to visit is the “Every Child Ready to Read” section. If you’ve attended a storytime, you might have noticed the storyteller throwing out little tricks to incorporate rhyming into your day, or encouragement to talk and sing to your baby and basically “narrate” all your activities. These tips have been found to increase a child’s vocabulary exponentially, and to prepare them for sounding out words when they learn how to read. This site may provide you with fresh, fun ideas you can add to your regular routines. Here’s a simple one – “Play ‘I Spy’ in the car using descriptive words to give clues.” You could also do this on walks or even around the house. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of remembering the things you used to enjoy doing when you were a kid, and knowing that it is more than just a game: it’s learning while having fun.
Here’s a little secret – most of the storytellers at our library had zero experience doing storytimes when they started their jobs (including me). Anyone can learn how to be a great storyteller with some practice, good advice, and a lack of fear of embarrassment. Storytime Underground (storytimeunderground.org) is one of those spots where you can find expert-level ideas and advice in under 5 minutes if you’re feeling a little humdrum about daily reading time. Why not create your own “storytime” at home? Get goofy – grab a stuffed animal and make it your storytime mascot. Sit in a chair in front of your kids and read a book or make up a story. Overly dramatize the characters’ voices in the story, and then sing a silly song. You can let your child have a turn as the storyteller. Even if they cannot read, they will probably put on a pretty good show.
For those who may be experiencing a heightened level of stress with young children at home 24/7, plus other responsibilities and worries, the Zero to Three webpage offers guidance and support for the emotional aspects of parenting. You can find brief videos, fact sheets and a special section of Coronavirus resources for families. Single parents, parents in the military, and others in unique situations will find helpful information about fostering relationships, self care, and developmental milestones.
Reading Rockets is a packed website with headings like “teaching reading,” “helping struggling readers,” and a wide range of topics related to early literacy and reading. The section on children’s books and authors includes booklists, award winners, and excellent videos. Check out Kansas author Bill Martin, Jr., reading (actually singing) his most popular book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? during his interview. This is just another way to add reading connections.
The library has several great options for viewing, streaming or downloading kids’ books from BookFLIX, Hoopla, Libby app, TumbleBooks, and more options on the state library’s Digital Book eLending page with TumbleMath and AudioBookCloud. If you need to get a library card so you can access thousands more children’s books online, just visit our webpage to find out how Manhattan residents can now register for an eCard online. Then, try out all our digital book options, and contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance.